January issue 2010
Don’t Cry For Me, Mr Ad Man
By Huma Imtiaz | Opinion | Published 13 years ago
Pakistan is not known for its spelling skills. And judging by some of the advertisments that were published this year by the country’s utilities and politicians, neither will it be known for its groundbreaking advertising.
Here you can view five of the advertisements that had the country hanging its head in embarrassment.
The PML-Q feels left out. That, or Chaudhry Shujaat and Pervaiz Elahi missed seeing their pictures in local dailies. While in power, the PML-Q leaders ensured that at every opportunity, they bombarded local dailies and electronic media outlets with advertisements featuring their achievements. It seems, that for the lack of anything else to say, they decided to tell off the PML-N. Hardly statesmen-like, but then, when have politicians ever desisted from taking pot shots at each other?
As seen in earlier regimes, the ministers of the current PPP government left no stone unturned in ensuring that their party’s leader President Asif Ali Zardari was aware of their admiration for his abilities. In fact, it seems they were so in awe of the spelling skills that Zardari had previously displayed while entering his remarks at the visitor’s book at the Quaid’s Mazar, that they took it upon themselves to emulate him. Behold, Sindh Minister for Local Bodies Agha Siraj Durrani’s humble efforts at impressing his boss.
While I can claim to be a liberal, I, like many others, was shocked to see the Pakistan Railways offering massages — that too in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Now, the public body is known for its inefficient service, delays and, sadly, even horrific train crashes in recent history which might explain why the train in the ad is on fire. But since that doesn’t seem to be enough for them to handle, they took it upon themselves to offer the 16-crore-strong population massages. We bet there are some very tired employees at Pakistan Railways at the moment.
In 2008, the Karachi Electric Supply Company did what no Bollywood or Lollywood heroine has managed to do for years: stay firmly put in its position of Number 1. Of course, that means Enemy #1. Having made millions of its customers suffer through prolonged breakdowns come rain or shine and unannounced loadshedding, KESC seems to have gotten bored, and has decided it must take on a new role. Or, at least, that’s the perception one seems to get when reading the copy of their advertisement published in December in local dailies. KESC will now teach its customers about the facts of life. As a friend of mine quipped, no wonder the country is in such a bad state if KESC is the one imparting the facts of life. Having vowed to improve the performance of the utility, the management of KESC blithely informed its users that “load shed (sic) is a fact of life.”
Since 2008, the PPP seems to be on the quest for some kind of world record. And no, it’s not for the most number of corrupt ministers, but for the most number of typos in an advertisement. Earlier, their advertisements for recruitment in the PPP featured mind-boggling lines like “Commiseration For Suppressed.” For the second death anniversary of Benazir Bhutto, they decided to show off their expertise in spelling, with a strong message on a billboard at Punjab Chowrangi, Karachi: “Our moto to built a strong democratic Pakistan.” It seems that the author of this advertisement had been watching Motorola ads featuring their tagline “Hello Moto” on repeat. Nevertheless, for a party whose two main leaders Zulfikar and Benazir Bhutto were renowned for their skill in speaking and writing in English, this billboard was perhaps not the right way to attract voters or fans towards the PPP camp.